The cool breeze ruffled through her thick fur, lifting her forelock from her brow. The scent of salt and ozone filed her lungs. The scent of home. She rarely thought about her birth pride any more, though she had never found out what exactly had happened to it. This had been her home for a long time. Looking back over one shoulder she spotted the striped shape of one of her sons. Jamal was fully grown now, along with the rest of his litter. Three big, muscular males and one sleek, energetic female. The four of them had given her something to hold to when she was first settling into the pride, and watching them grow and develop into the adults they were now had been the happiest times of her life. She had always loved cubs. Being a babysitter in her birth pride had been entirely natural for her. She had longed for little ones of her own for so long, but the journey to that goal had cost her more than she could ever have imagined. Yet it had been worth it. Jamal and his brothers and sister were worth any price, and she would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Turning back towards the ocean once Jamal had walked out of sight, no doubt on his way to the forest to hunt, she sighed softly. She had been feeling lonely lately… and most nights she dreamed of the days when her litter were still cubs, dependant on her for everything, accepting the love and affection she showered on them. Now they were grown and had left the den and she missed those days. Though they were still in her life they didn’t need her any more. Shahin could be gone for months at a time on his travails. She wanted cubs to love and fuss over again.
Shaking her mane from her eyes and the thoughts from her head she started to turn away from the sea but caught movement out of the corner of her eye. Something stood high up on the nearby hilltop, gazing down towards the ocean. A moment later the stranger started down the bank, his large green frame slipping and sliding but moving easily despite the unstable sand. Puzzled, for she could not recall ever seeing him before, she turned and faced him, waiting for him to come down off the dry sand where walking was difficult to join her on the foreshore.
He seemed both at once friendly and a little reluctant. His grin was amused but his expression.. embarrassed? Puzzled she watched him, waiting for some kind of hint as to what was going on. She wasn’t nervous though, the pride was as safe as any could be and besides, it was the Mummers Ball, the Bahari lions had been coming and going and she knew very few of them by sight. Mostly only those that had moved to the Kizi to live with their mates. Or the odd Kizi lion who had gone to live with their neighbours but visited often.
Offering a welcoming smile when he spoke she quickly realised he was neither Kizi nor Bahari… Was he a rogue looking for a home, just like she had all those seasons ago? Either way he seemed nice enough, all soft spoken despite the huge body and obvious muscle. He had very few scars, unusual for most rogues she had met. Her best friend’s husband was utterly covered in them, but then she knew they hadn’t always been rogues, though neither of them ever spoke about their past she knew them well enough to guess that it hadn’t been very pleasant.
Realising he had been speaking and now seemed to be waiting for her reply, she blushed warmly. “It is nice to meet you Yosun. I am Tahirah…” Oh! No, he was a stranger, she met so few of them she had forgotten! “Ahh.. that is.. I’m normally known as Wren.” She really hoped he didn’t call her on her slip-up. She had never truly gotten used to her new pride-name and still referred to herself by her birth name. Maybe it was time to cal herself Wren all the time?
Oh no, she was getting distracted again! She really hoped he didn’t catch her slip, so she rushed on. “This is the edge of my pride. Not many come here..” There, that was an explanation.. of sorts… Oh bother. She only hoped she hadn’t put him off with her odd behaviour, for even she knew, despite her time in the Kizi with their beliefs, both old and new, that she was acting oddly…
“Have you come a long way?” If he wasn’t a local, and wasn’t rogue, then what was he? She assumed he was here peacefully but it wouldn’t hurt to make certain. He looked too kind to be trouble. And there was something about him, a kind of peacefulness and calm that made her want to trust him, to relax around him. As if, with him near by, nothing could possibly go wrong.
He said a word as if it meant something, or should have. ‘Jedi’. What was one of those? Whatever it was, it sounded important. And it matched his demeanour. She could see him as being some kind of protector or warrior, despite his scar-free coat. He started to ask about her pride again and she blushed once more. But surely he was safe to talk to? He seemed nice, and with his Jedi title he seemed responsible.. and honestly… he felt safe. Finally smiling again she gave into her mental voice and puffed out a light breath. It was the Mummer's Ball after all...
“We are the Gypsies. The cove behind me is our home. We forbid hunting within our lands but if you like, I can show you where it is safe to hunt. You said you have come far?...” She paused until he nodded. “I know prey in the outside can be scarce.” Flushing as she was aware she was rambling but couldn’t seem to stop, she stepped away from the ocean, waiting for him to join her before starting towards the forest. “What is your home like?” She was curious about this male and his polite, gentle ways. He reminded her in some ways of Giovanni…
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